La Adelita represents a triumph of two women whose old school culture did not accept them owning a restaurant of their own.
Maria's first job in the US was in clothing design because her parents didn't consider cooking to be a serious career.
After nine years, she joined her brother's newly-opened Mexican restaurant as a cashier in Woodside, yet always cooking the rice because "it came out perfect." He put her through cooking school and gave her a private instructor as well.
The original La Adelita opened in 2012, with Maria and her daughter Cynthia managing the venue, also owned by Maria's brother. "In our family, they don't believe a woman can be doing everything, so it was a big transition," Cynthia recalls. "I told my mom, 'We can do this. We don't always need the man.'"
When the restaurant was set for demolition, the two of them started their own Long Island City place, Corazón de Mexico, lasting four years. They opened their current restaurant, also calling it La Adelita, during the last week of December 2019.
"La Adelita is a symbol. She is known as our woman hero who stands up for the revolution in Mexico," explains Cynthia. "She was not only a woman that was in the house taking care of her kids, but she also went to war.
"In all the restaurants, my uncle was there. He didn't think as women, we were able to do that. When we opened Corazón de Mexico, they didn't have any faith in us. We didn't have the support at all.
"I told my mom, 'We can open this restaurant, but it's not only serving food from us.' It's more like helping those women with self-independence, so we try to focus on that strongly."
GRANDMOTHER ANNA MARIA'S
The pot comes from Maria's home town of Puebla in Mexico.
"In Mexico, I had different designs. One design is for the beans. One design is for mole. One design is for rice or maybe eggs, "she says. "Because this is [the one] my grandma makes the mole. The taste is different when made in this [pot]."
When Maria went to cooking school, her grandmother gave her the pot as a good luck charm. She always saw her grandmother using it, but she never expected to receive it.
Maria uses the pot to make everything from mole, and tostillas to chuletas and carnitas.
At an event, a staff person told Cynthia: "Your food is not any kind of food. I know it's homemade because we feel it." Cynthia calls it the "spirit of connection."